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              ***** NCAA Football Preview - Georgia Bulldogs *****
 
 By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: For the second straight year, Georgia represented the
 SEC East in the conference championship game, but it once again failed to take
 down its West rival, falling to Alabama, 32-28, and thus losing out on an
 opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship.
 
 Despite the disappointing end to the regular season, however, the Bulldogs
 proved to be one of the nation's most dominant teams in 2012, going 7-1 in
 conference play, with its only other loss coming at South Carolina on Oct. 6,
 35-7. Their signature win came over No. 3 Florida on a neutral field on Oct.
 27, 17-9.
 
 After missing out on an at-large selection to a BCS bowl game, Georgia
 accepted a bid to the Capital One Bowl where it defeated No. 23 Nebraska,
 45-31.
 
 Mark Richt is entering his 13th year as the program's head coach, going 118-40
 with eight bowl wins in 12 tries. The team has qualified for postseason play
 in 16 consecutive seasons.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: The Bulldogs' offense was spectacular a year ago, putting up 37.8 ppg
 on 467.6 ypg, scoring 40 points or more in eight games while finishing the
 season with a school-record 529 points. With the return of most of their top
 playmakers, an even better season could be in store in 2013.
 
 Aaron Murray is already the most decorated quarterback in program history with
 a school-record 95 career touchdown passes, and the 2012 campaign was his best
 yet as he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,893 yards, throwing 36
 scoring strikes against only 10 interceptions. Murray is a bona fide Heisman
 Trophy contender as a senior and is excited for the opportunity his team has
 this season.
 
 "We're right there as a team," Murray said. "We're more confident right now
 knowing we can compete in those big-time games against big-time competition. I
 think Georgia is back where it needs to be in terms of national respect and we
 just need to push the door open now."
 
 Georgia provides some of the best run-pass balance in the nation thanks to its
 dynamic duo in the backfield. As freshmen, Todd Gurley (1,385 yards, 17 TDs)
 and Keith Marshall (759 yards, eight TDs) were unstoppable, with both
 averaging better than six yards per carry, and more of the same is expected in
 2013.
 
 Although Tavarres King -- Murray's go-to receiver last season with 42
 receptions, 950 yards and nine touchdowns -- is now a member of the Denver
 Broncos, the Bulldogs have plenty of talented playmakers in the passing game,
 including wideouts Malcolm Mitchell (572 yards, four TDs) and Michael Bennett
 (345 yards, four TDs), and tight end Arthur Lynch (431 yards, three TDs). The
 team also returns four starters along the offensive line.
 
 DEFENSE: Georgia's defense was also strong last season, holding opponents
 under 20 points per game on average, but the unit will have plenty of holes to
 fill following the offseason departure of standouts Jarvis Jones, Alec
 Ogletree, Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings.
 
 Still, the Bulldogs retain plenty of talent on that side of the ball,
 especially at linebacker. Amarlo Herrera quietly racked up 70 tackles playing
 the in shadow of Ogletree, and Jordan Jenkins (eight TFL, five sacks) has the
 potential to have a breakout campaign filling in for Jones as an edge rusher.
 
 Cornerback Damian Swann (53 tackles, four INTs) and defensive end Garrison
 Smith (57 tackles) are expected to have big years as both landed on preseason
 All-SEC teams.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: Placekicker Marshall Morgan (8-of-14 on field goal attempts)
 and punter Collin Barber (41.5 avg) are both back after playing well as
 freshmen.
 
 Mitchell served as the primary kickoff and punt return man in 2012, but
 totaled fewer than 420 yards. Gurley was used sparingly on kickoff returns and
 was outstanding with a 34.7 yard average, including a 100-yard touchdown
 versus Buffalo in the season opener.
 
 OUTLOOK: After experiencing sustained success in recent years, expectations in
 Athens are sky-high, but Richt is taking the cautious approach when it comes
 to his team's projections.
 
 "I think our team is one that has a lot of questions, and because of the
 questions it's created a lot of excitement," Richt said. "A lot of players are
 still fighting for starting positions. I think we have the ingredients to
 answer those questions. It's just a matter of how it's going to fall into
 place."
 
 The loss of so many NFL-caliber players on the defensive side of the ball is
 sure to hurt, especially in a league with so many stout defenses to contend
 with, but the offense is primed to be as potent as ever. The Bulldogs' tough
 schedule includes matchups with Clemson, LSU and Vanderbilt, but the most
 important are undoubtedly the contests against South Carolina (Sept. 7) and
 Florida (Nov. 2). If they can take care of those East Division rivals, another
 SEC Championship Game appearance is likely.
 
 
 
 08/23 12:47:52 ET